Openly flouting the ban on bull racing in Punjab, a mini 'rural Olympics' was organised in Ludhiana district on Tuesday. A pair of bulls and their rider were injured during the race when the bulls slipped from the track and ran amok.
Yet, the race - at Ramgarh village, 18 km from Ludhiana city - continued. One of the fallen bulls received serious injuries on its leg after which it was not able to stand.
Authorities failed to stop the event though decorated bulls from far off areas were brought to the village. Nearly 180 bulls from various parts of the state took part in the race at Ramgarh, with a few hundred spectators in attendance.
Sandeep Jain, co-opted member, Animal Welfare Board of India (union ministry of environment and forests), said if such an event had taken place, strict action should be taken against the race organisers.
"In July last year, the union ministry of environment and forests banned performances by bulls at any event," Jain said. "In case a bull has been injured at Ramgarh during the event, the authorities should immediately take strict action."
Jain said a case under the prevention of cruelty to animals act should be registered against the organisers. "The person on whose land the games were going on should also be booked," he said. "The cases should be registered under sections 428 and 429 of the IPC."
Farmers with their bulls from as far as Sangrur and Jalandhar had come to take part in the race. Ludhiana deputy commissioner of police Ashish Choudhary said, "Strict action will be taken against those who organised the race and those who took part in it."
The ban on bull racing was imposed when animal right activists raised their voice against the use of the animals in races in the Rural Olympics at Kila Raipur last year, and the race was not permitted in the games in February this year.
The central notification, issued on July 11, 2011, states that bulls, among other animals, "shall not be exhibited or trained as performing animals, with effect from the date of publication of this notification", as specified by the central government and in "exercise of powers conferred by Section 22 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960".
Dr Manilal Valliyate, director of veterinary affairs, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, said besides acting against the organisers of the event, "the police head of Ludhiana district should take disciplinary action against the official who failed to enforce the law".
Harminder Singh, chairman of the Punjab Bel Dodak Committee that organised the event, however, said, "This is part of our culture so how can we stop bull races?"